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What Is A Newfoundland Kitchen Party?

So just what is a Newfoundland Kitchen party you ask?

Newfoundland Kitchen Parties are a charming and integral part of the culture in Newfoundland and Labrador, a province on the east coast of Canada. These gatherings are more than just social events; they are a vibrant expression of Newfoundland’s rich cultural heritage.

Traditionally, a kitchen party happens in someone’s home, usually in the kitchen, which is often the largest and warmest room in a Newfoundland house. This setting creates an intimate and cozy atmosphere, conducive to the communal spirit of these gatherings. The concept is simple yet profoundly cultural: friends, family, and sometimes even strangers come together to share music, stories, food, and dance.

Music is at the heart of a Newfoundland Kitchen Party. The province has a unique musical tradition, heavily influenced by its Irish, English, French, and Indigenous heritage. Participants often bring their own instruments – like fiddles, accordions, guitars, and even homemade instruments like the “ugly stick” – a unique Newfoundland creation. The music ranges from traditional folk tunes to more contemporary songs, but the common thread is the impromptu and collaborative nature of the performances.

newfoundland kitchen party

Dancing is another key element, with traditional jigs and reels often taking center stage. These dances are lively and rhythmic, and even those who claim two left feet find themselves tapping along or being swept onto the dance floor.

Food and storytelling are also integral to these gatherings. Traditional Newfoundland dishes like Jiggs’ dinner, fish and brewis, and toutons are often served. These hearty meals are accompanied by the sharing of stories and laughter, with tales ranging from local folklore to personal anecdotes.

Newfoundland Kitchen Parties are a reflection of the province’s warm hospitality and communal spirit. They are a way for Newfoundlanders to preserve and celebrate their rich cultural heritage, fostering a sense of community and belonging. These gatherings are not just for entertainment; they are a living testament to the island’s history, resilience, and vibrant cultural tapestry.

Popular Newfoudland Kitchen Party Songs

At a Newfoundland Kitchen Party, the music played is a lively mix of traditional folk tunes and popular local songs that reflect the province’s rich cultural heritage. Here are some examples of songs that are often enjoyed at these gatherings:

“I’se The B’y” – This is a classic Newfoundland folk song. It’s upbeat and tells of life in the fishing communities. It’s often sung with great enthusiasm and is a staple at kitchen parties.

“Sonny’s Dream” – Written by Ron Hynes, a beloved Newfoundland singer-songwriter, this song has become an anthem in Newfoundland and is widely covered by local musicians.

“The Night Paddy Murphy Died” – A song by Great Big Sea, a popular band from Newfoundland. It’s a humorous account of the wake of Paddy Murphy and is known for its lively and rollicking tune.

“Lukey’s Boat” – This traditional Newfoundland folk song is known for its catchy chorus and is often played with a lively beat, making it perfect for dancing.

“Mussels in the Corner” – Another traditional song, it’s often played with a lively rhythm and is popular for group singing and dancing.

“Saltwater Joys” – Written by Wayne Chaulk of the group Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers, this song beautifully captures the love for the Newfoundland way of life.

“The Old Polina” – A traditional sea shanty that reflects Newfoundland’s deep connection to the sea and its fishing heritage.

“Tickle Cove Pond” – This ballad tells a dramatic story and is a great example of Newfoundland’s storytelling tradition in music.

“Squid Jiggin’ Ground” – A humorous song that paints a picture of the squid fishing tradition in Newfoundland.

“Sarah” – A song by Ron Hynes that has become a beloved ballad in Newfoundland.

These songs are often accompanied by various instruments typical of Newfoundland music, like the fiddle, accordion, guitar, and the bodhrán. The beauty of a Newfoundland Kitchen Party is in the shared experience of music, where everyone, regardless of their musical skill, is encouraged to participate, be it through singing, playing an instrument, or even just clapping along.

Newfoundland Kitchen Party Food

Food at a Newfoundland Kitchen Party is as much a part of the experience as the music and camaraderie. The cuisine served at these gatherings is a reflection of Newfoundland’s cultural heritage, influenced by its history and the natural bounty of the land and sea. The dishes are often hearty, comforting, and steeped in tradition.

One of the most iconic Newfoundland dishes that might be served is “Jiggs’ dinner,” also known as “boiled dinner.” This is a one-pot meal traditionally made with salt beef, cabbage, carrots, turnips, potatoes, and sometimes a piece of split pea pudding bag – a mixture of split peas, flour, and other ingredients boiled in a cloth bag. Jiggs’ dinner is a staple in Newfoundland cuisine and represents the simple yet satisfying fare that has sustained generations.

“Fish and brewis” is another classic dish that could make an appearance. It consists of salt cod and hard bread or hardtack (a type of dried, hard biscuit). The hard bread is soaked overnight to soften it, and then it’s boiled with salt cod, and often served with scrunchions – crispy fried pork fat. It’s a dish that showcases Newfoundland’s strong connection to the sea and its fishing heritage.

“Toutons” are also popular and might be served, especially if the kitchen party stretches into the morning hours. These are thick, doughy pancakes made from bread dough, fried until golden brown and often served with molasses or butter.

For dessert, one might find “Lassy Mog” (Molasses Cake) or “Figgy Duff,” a traditional steamed pudding made with raisins and molasses. These sweet treats are a perfect way to round off a meal and are often enjoyed with a cup of tea.

Alongside these traditional dishes, a Newfoundland Kitchen Party might also feature an array of seafood, like mussels, shrimp, and crab, reflecting the province’s rich marine resources. Pickled items, like pickled beets and mustard pickles, are also common and add a tangy contrast to the hearty main dishes.

These foods are more than just sustenance; they are a way to connect to Newfoundland’s history and cultural identity. The act of preparing and sharing these dishes is a communal effort, often involving stories and recipes passed down through generations. In this way, a Newfoundland Kitchen Party is not just a celebration of the present, but a heartfelt nod to the past.

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